Connect the dots, Connecticut.
Who was the fixer who pulled the plug on Congressman Henry Waxman’s investigation of World Wrestling Entertainment?
That’s my first, and will be my lasting, reaction to the implications of the story of Linda McMahon’s resignation from the state Board of Education.
Jon Lender of the Hartford Courant has reported that McMahon, after getting legal opinions, decided that the faithful discharge of her duties on the ed board did not mesh with the things a candidate for the U.S. Senate must do.
But the account that really caught my eye was the reprint – on Brian Lockhart’s Political Capitol blog – of his story last October for Hearst newspapers about how certain political figures who had supported McMahon for the education post, after Governor Jodi Rell nominated her, were miffed when McMahon quickly turned around and launched a run for the U.S. Senate. I had not read that report because I didn’t start closely following Connecticut politics and Linda’s Senate race until December. It is a very important, if somewhat obvious, piece of the puzzle. See http://blog.ctnews.com/politicalcapitol/2010/04/01/mcmahon-resigns-from-state-board-of-ed/.
Also somewhat obvious was the takeaway of Lockhart’s February 28 front-pager about how Congressman Henry Waxman, in January 2009, punted a federal investigation of WWE’s drug policies. At the time I wrote that Hearst had “filled a syringe with substance and injected it deep into the flabby gluteus maximus of Linda McMahon’s Senate campaign.” Expressing the opinion that federal investigations don’t go away on their own, I urged Connecticut journalists not to stop at the bromide that the cloud of a high-profile probe of the McMahon family business would have been inconvenient to her electoral ambitions.
I also urged campaign watchers to dig more and find out who the fixer was. With today’s new information, I underscore the importance of this angle of the story of the mysterious candidate who thinks that $50 million, plus stewardship of a junk-entertainment death mill, qualify her for the United States Senate.
Of course, the campaign of Rob Simmons, McMahon’s main Republican opponent, can be expected to whisper – if not shout from the top of Bear Mountain – “Rahm Emanuel!” Linda McMahon made more than one contribution to Emanuel’s Congressional campaigns in between his high-level stints on the Clinton and Obama White House staffs.
I have no idea if it was Emanuel. But it was somebody.
One more thing.
WWE’s most trusted outside counsel is Jerry McDevitt of K&L Gates, a Pittsburgh-based law firm. K&L Gates was also one of WWE’s registered Washington lobbyists. In January I reported that public filings showed the company had spent no money in this area last year. McDevitt also told me that in its second-quarter filing, K&L Gates “reported the termination of the registration.” See “K&L Gates: We Did No Washington Lobbying on Behalf of WWE in 2009,” http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/kl-gates-we-did-no-washington-lobbying-on-behalf-of-wwe-in-2009/.
A billion-dollar corporation, full of controversy and potential regulatory and tax issues, does zero lobbying? Maybe. By the middle of last year, WWE’s work in Washington was done, at least for the time being. Here is the pertinent chronology from my perspective:
SUMMER 2007 – WWE star Chris Benoit murders his wife and their son, and kills himself. In the ensuing news frenzy, two committees of the House of Representatives announce probes of pro wrestling’s drug and death pandemic.
DECEMBER 2007 – The Waxman Committee staff interviews Vince and Linda McMahon behind closed doors.
2008 – Big fat nothing. The public has turned the page on the deaths of the people behind cartoon characters.
JANUARY 2009 – Henry Waxman releases the raw material of the investigation of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to a White House office no one has ever heard of, on the Friday afternoon of the New Year’s holiday weekend, and announces that he’s done. Governor Rell appoints Linda McMahon to the Board of Education.
SUMMER 2009 – McMahon has an epiphany and decides to run for the Senate.